Iraq’s Brave School Kids, Mothers & Teachers

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Imagine for a moment sending your kid day after day to school with no guarantee that the child would come back alive.

Teachers, heads and school inspectors from Iraq who came for a visit to the U.K. on an invitation from Britain’s National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) provided a first hand account of the daily life experienced by Iraqi school kids, mothers and teachers.

The Guardian report states: “An astonishing picture of life inside Baghdad’s schools has been revealed by a group of Iraqi teachers who have travelled to the United Kingdom to gain respite from the daily bloodshed they witness.

“One, Suad Saleem Abdulla, described how she pulled her own children close every morning and said goodbye as if it were the last time she would ever see them. It was a daily ritual shared by parents throughout Iraq, she said. Only then did she start her treacherous 20-minute walk to school.

“Ms. Abdulla, who told her story for the first time last weekend, has seen corpses and even ‘flying body parts’ on her journey to the school where she is head teacher, but carried on walking because she was determined to keep it open.

“They spoke of teachers assassinated as they walked to work, or kidnapped in front of pupils, and a daily battle to keep the terror outside the school gates. Their stories give a remarkable insight into the lives of Iraqi children who turn up for lessons day after day despite the bloodshed and violence.”

Author: SWARAAJ CHAUHAN, International Columnist

Swaraaj Chauhan describes his two-decade-long stint as a full-time journalist as eventful, purposeful, and full of joy and excitement. In 1993 he could foresee a different work culture appearing on the horizon, and decided to devote full time to teaching journalism (also, partly, with a desire to give back to the community from where he had enriched himself so much.) Alongside, he worked for about a year in 1993 for the US State Department's SPAN magazine, a nearly five-decade-old art and culture monthly magazine promoting US-India relations. It gave him an excellent opportunity to learn about things American, plus the pleasure of playing tennis in the lavish American embassy compound in the heart of New Delhi. In !995 he joined WWF-India as a full-time media and environment education consultant and worked there for five years travelling a great deal, including to Husum in Germany as a part of the international team to formulate WWF's Eco-tourism policy. He taught journalism to honors students in a college affiliated to the University of Delhi, as also at the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication where he lectured on "Development Journalism" to mid-career journalists/Information officers from the SAARC, African, East European and Latin American countries, for eight years. In 2004 the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) selected him as a Trainer/Mentor for India under a European Union project. In 2008/09 He completed another European Union-funded project for the BBC WST related to Disaster Management and media coverage in two eastern States in India --- West Bengal and Orissa. Last year, he spent a couple of months in Australia and enjoyed trekking, and also taught for a while at the University of South Australia. Recently, he was appointed as a Member of the Board of Studies at Chitkara University in Chandigarh, a beautiful city in North India designed by the famous Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier. He also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students there. He loves trekking, especially in the hills, and never misses an opportunity to play a game of tennis. The Western and Indian classical music are always within his reach for instant relaxation. And last, but not least, is his firm belief in the power of the positive thought to heal oneself and others.

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